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Rescued couple say slash broke windows in flood

MEDIA RELEASE

Date/Time: Update 3

4 June 2018, 11.30am

Rescued couple say slash broke windows in flood

A Tolaga Bay couple rescued from their rooftop this morning thought the nearby river was receding before a great rumbling noise preceded a “heap of slash and a torrent of water” smashing into their house.

The man said the slash smashed the windows and water poured into the house. The water was waist height. They went out the back door on the opposite side of the flow and on to the deck. They pushed their way out through a plastic roof and on to the roof of the house.

The flood swept away the woolshed and various other vehicles including his partner’s car only bought this week. The man later saw his work truck about a kilometre down the road.

“I think it was a flash flood, possibly caused by a log jam up the Mangatokerau Gorge where the river narrows.”

Tairawhiti Civil Defence Emergency Management group controller John Clarke said he understood from the woman that floodwaters had swept away their woolshed, her partner’s work truck, her car, a digger, tractors and trailers. She said there was water everywhere. They could see no roads, no roofs and there was a just one huge water pool. A large amount of slash and debris was coming down the river.

They had phoned Gisborne District Council shortly before 4am. Fifteen minutes later they were fine. At 4.30am, they were on the roof. Emergency services were unable to reach them at that time but airlifted them out to safety around 8.30am.

A number of families contacted Civil Defence about flooding on their properties and they moved out to stay with family and friends.

A weather watch is in place from 9pm tonight until 1pm tomorrow afternoon.

Civil Defence will continue to monitor the situation.

State Highway 35 has been closed at Mangatuna Road north of Tolaga Bay and at Whangara, where water reached the bottom of the Waiomoko Bridge.

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